It often seems fashionable for smart political commentators to question the ability of campaign finance laws to stop the purchase of influence. Money is like water, it will flow, etc. etc. But New Jersey's new laws against political contributions from government contractors--so-called "pay to play"--appear to be working. They're working so well, in fact, that "several leading Democrats say the rules are cutting too deeply into their ability to raise money." ... How can a politician raise money except from state contractors, after all. ... [Thanks to S.B. ] 2:21 A.M.
Even as the "immigration debate drifts away from Bush," in the WSJ's words, the New York Times dutifully puffs the designated spokespeople for its favored side. (I must have missed the glowing profile of Democratic McCain-Kennedy foe Byron Dorgan, or of Republicans James Sensenbrenner or Jeff Sessions). ... Kirk Johnson's build-up of pro-legalization Senator Ken Salazar and his "story" has an especially strained, passionless quality, since Salazar doesn't have a stirring upward mobility tale to tell. He's not an immigrant, his family having "helped found Santa Fe, N.M., in the late 1500s," before either the United States or Mexico existed. ... Salazar's main, if not only, role seems to be to appeal on a purely ethnic basis, and his "story" appears to be entirely an abstract plea for Hispanic political ascendancy. ... P.S.: Is someone who can credibly say that his people were here long before the gringos ("It was the border that came over us. We didn't come over the border") the best poster-Senator for quelling mainstream fears of a reconquista? ... 1:51 A.M.
The Gray Princess: Once again the Internet empowers the little guy with a blog to take on entrenched citadels of previously unchecked power! In this case, the little guy is the General Motors Corporation. I'm not saying GM has effectively used its web site to make the NYT letters editors look like self-protective twits of the sort you might expect would wind up editing the New York Times letters section.But I'm not saying they haven't! ... Does NYT Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins really object to the use of the word "rubbish"? She never seemed like the delicate type. Does Thomas Friedman (to whose column GM was objecting) need that kind of insulation? Who checks his mattresses for peas? ... P.S.: It's not as if GM's letter was so devastating, or raised annoying factual claims that demanded a response. ... 5:44 P.M.
David Mastio has a good idea for New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus. ... 12:52 P.M.
Is McCain Blowing It, Part III: Pat Buchanan says yes! He would. But it's a tightly-argued column. 12:23 P.M.
The Last Hundred Days ... : The New York Times on the successful Senate filibuster of a bill to fully repeal the estate tax ("GOP Fails in Attempt ..."):
Republicans are now debating whether to give up on their goal and attack Democrats in the coming midterm elections as obstructionists on a measure that they say has considerable support, or settle for a bipartisan measure that would stop short of eliminating the tax entirely.
Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, said he would continue to meet with Senate leaders and crucial Democrats to discuss options for compromise. But there were few signs on Thursday of any new deal.
There often aren't signs of a deal until there's a deal! Read the NYT story yourself and see if you don't agree that the array of forces points to some sort of partial repeal deal. Specifically, 1) Republicans would like to take some legislative accomplishments to the voters. 2) They know they'll be weaker in the next Congress than they are in this one. ...
P.S.: A recent Kyl partial-repeal proposal, the Times says, "failed to win over more than two or three Democrats." Hmm. Isn't that close to being all Kyl needs? The Senate was only three votes short of cloture on full repeal, remember, though some of those may have been posturing votes that would evaporate if they really mattered. ...
TODAY IN SLATE
Forget Oculus Rift
This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.
The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team
The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?